Vic High band takes rhythm on tour

Members of Vic High’s R&B band will travel to Ottawa as part of a whirlwind trip back east marking the band’s 20th year in existence.

Vic High R&B band members Taliya Seidman-Wright and Leo McKee-Reid take a break during rehearsal.

Taliya Seidman-Wright has memories of standing in the mirror as a little girl belting out Martha and the Vandellas’ Heat Wave, while her mom’s CD played in the background. So it’s no wonder the 16-year-old Vic High student is thrilled she’ll get to meet Martha Reeves herself next month, and maybe get a chance to perform on stage with the Motown legend.

“I grew up listening to her music. I can’t even believe we’re going to be meeting her,” Seidman-Wright says.

She and the fellow members of Vic High’s esteemed R&B band will travel to Ottawa in February as part of a whirlwind trip back east marking the band’s 20th year in existence.

“In 1990 I was told at the school I could do anything I wanted,” says band director Eric Emde. “I was looking for something that would cover about all mainstream aspects of high school (music) performance programs.”

With that, the R&B band was born.

Emde’s model – which includes the main band, a rehearsal band, and a smaller professional ensemble known as The Midnights – set the bar high for high schools looking to introduce a thorough R&B program.

In the Ottawa area, there are four schools who’ve started R&B bands in recent years. Emde says some great publicity North America-wide for the Vic High program in 2006 helped spur more like bands.

“There was a documentary done on our (R&B) program in 2005. It was a concert we did with Martha Reeves and the Vandellas,” he says of Motown High (also known as Sounds of Motown). “Martha  just kind of adopted the program, which is fabulous. … But it’s been five years. She’s kind of missed a generation of the band.”

The Vic High band, along with Reeves and their fellow high school R&B counterparts, will perform at the National Arts Centre of Canada. The students will also take part in workshops hosted by Reeves.

“Because it’s the 20th anniversary, we’re doing a lot of stuff from my first year: Martha, Otis Redding, Patty LaBelle, Wild Cherry, Wilson Pickett, Brian Setzer Orchestra. The kids love this stuff,” Emde says.

The trip is funded by the Society for Educational Visits and Exchanges (SEVEC). The exchange will see students from Ottawa’s Holy Trinity Catholic high school come visit Victoria in May.

Emde says he’s not surprised that students glom on to these decades-old songs. “They have great lyrics, a positive, upbeat rhythm, melody and harmony.

“One kid said to me the other day, ‘There’s nothing memorable from my generation. In 20 years, I’m not going to remember anything current. All the good stuff came from your generation,’” Emde says. “I think that speaks to how passionate they all are about the music.”

Seidman-Wright, who sings in the R&B band, echoes that sentiment.

“It’s nice to be around people who are all passionate about music, not just the top 40 pop,” she says. “This program is worth all the rehearsals and all the hard work because it’s so much fun, and it’s such good music.”

Just Posted

Man arrested, charged in connection with stabbing at Langford Lanes

Twenty-year-old Austin Bonner has been charged with aggravated assault

Community rallies behind Langford man battling lymphoma

More than $20,000 has been raised to help Mike Gordon

Victoria painter splashes some colour on a dreary situation

Six-week long James Bay construction project gives Teresa Waclawik an impromptu canvas

B.C. Transit to reduce service for spring

Route changes come in to effect April 9

Group calls for limited access to backcountry roads near Jordan River

Victoria Fish and Game Protective Association says closures would limit misuse of woods

Ottawa proposes restricted pot labels, packages

Packaging will include red stop sign with marijuana leaf and ‘THC’

Women’s Expo seeks to empower women this weekend

Victoria Women’s Expo set for Saturday and Sunday at Pearkes Recreation Centre

City of Victoria seeks artists to contribute to upcoming public exhibitions

Submissions for Commercial Alley gallery, bus shelter project due by April 9

Alberta budget plans for Trans Mountain expansion

Finance Minister Joe Ceci says expected revenues will be factored into budget forecasts

Plane filled with smoke lands at Nanaimo Airport

WestJet flight came in from Vancouver

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers wanted list for the week of March 20

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

Rescued Comox canoer credits those ‘at the right place, at the right time’

James Milne was rescued in a hypothermic state Sunday near Goose Spit

Proposed gun bill attacked by gun owners and shooting victims

The federal government tabled the bill today in order to tighten the sale and tracking of firearms

Most Read